The pearl barley is so nice here, I prefer it to rice, it takes a little longer to cook, but it easier to get this risotto right.
I use a mix of mushrooms, as many as I can find, our favourite mushrooms are porcini shitake, Swiss brown and enoki, they can be hard to find at times, but mix in as many different mushrooms as you can find.
As for the stock, you can make your own, and I have done that previously, but I also am happy to buy a salt reduced chicken stock and use that, works just fine.
100ml extra virgin olive oil
4 eschalots, finely chopped
200g pearl barley
150ml dry white wine
1 litre Salt Reduced Chicken Stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g mixed mushrooms-morels, swiss brown, shitake, chanterelles, oysters, porcini, shimejis, enokis or chestnuts, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces if large
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
25g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
80g unsalted butter, chopped
Heat 50ml of the olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat.
Add the eschalots, cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until soft but not coloured. Add the pearl barley, cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, coating it in the oil mixture. Add the wine and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the wine has reduced by two-thirds.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
Season the barley mix with some salt and pepper, don't add too much at this stage. Add half of the chicken stock to the barley, simmer, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes. Add the remaining chicken stock, simmer, stirring regularly for a further 15-20 minutes or until the pearl barley is tender.
Heat the remaining 50ml of olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the mushroom mix to the pearl barley. Taste, add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Stir in the parmesan and butter, cook a further 5 minutes, if needed. Your risotto should not be too soup like or too dry, but just wet enough that when you put it in a plate the liquid should ooze a little.
Serve in plates or bowls and grate on some extra parmesan.
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